Last week, Americans honored and prayed for the men and women of the military. Their devotion to country is greatly appreciated. Their military service keeps the country safe. For a country to be strong, it must be safe and must have leaders who serve in the best interest of all Americans at home and abroad.
Officials are concerned that our health system is at a breaking point with limited hospital space and exhausted front-line caregivers. For everyone’s safety, recommended precautions should be taken. Being physically, emotionally and spiritually strong will help in coping with problems. I decided to review scriptural passages to demonstrate the support that can be found in maintaining religious values.
Luke 8:43-48 presents a narrative about faith. “And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. ‘Who touched me?’ Jesus asked. Peter said, ‘Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.’ But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.’ Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace’.”
Think about this woman who had suffered for 12 years. The crowd blocked her access to Jesus. Her faith was so strong she believed that a touch of his robe would help. From behind, she touched his robe.This was an act of incredible faith. She was healed without speaking.
We learn that spreading the faith requires words and deeds. The message is to let your light of faith shine first and then use words. Having faith that comes from a strong commitment and connection to Jesus is the first step to building a strong Christian character.
Another step in Christian character building is to share the message. Hebrews 5:14 presents a basic understanding, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Philippians 1:9-11 gives a broader understanding, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.”
Matthew 25 presents the parable about the separation of the sheep and the goats, which explains the commitments of faith. Jesus’ words are clearly stated in Matthew 25:34-36, 40. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Christians have been commanded to love and honor God. Then they must act with kindness and support for the stranger and the neighbor. Following these two commandments will shape and maintain the Christian character.
The passage from Matthew includes the opportunity to strength one’s faith, but it also includes a warning that in time there will be a separation of the sheep from the goats! “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they (the goats) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous (the sheep) to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:45-46) Salvation is a gift, but it inspires the faithful to follow Jesus’ instructions to take care of each other.
Wishing everyone a safe Thanksgiving! If family gatherings are not possible next week, remember a day of thanksgiving and turkey does not have to be in November. A later date would be safer and just as meaningful.
“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” — Psalm 69:30
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